Taking Five

I’m taking a little break.  No, not five minutes–more like five months!  I’ve been praying and thinking about this all week, and it boils down to this:  I cannot imagine how I will be able to keep up with writing Sundays with Cindy between now and December and give it the time and my best efforts that it deserves.  I am thrilled to pieces to have my children and grandchildren coming to stay with us during that time, but I know myself–although I am sure there would be a lot say with twelve of us under one roof, I would find it very difficult to find a quiet little corner in which to hide away and write!  And besides, would I want to?  I want to spend every moment I can enjoying my precious grandbabies and children!  So, the Lord willing, I’ll be back December 4th–hopefully with plenty to say!  Until then– “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.” (Philippians 1:3)

And in the meantime, feast your eyes on my beautiful grandchildren!  “Children’s children are the crown of old men [and old women!]”  (Proverbs 17:6)

Naranjo grandsSanchez grands

 

Stuff and Nonsense

We just have too much stuff! I’ve spent the last week cleaning out drawers and closets.  Well, not juststuffandnonsensecream_logo%20copy cleaning them out—rather emptying them out.  Later this summer the Naranjos will be moving in with us for several months.  Laurie and Fernando have seven children.  I am so excited to have my kids and grandkids here, and I wouldn’t want them staying anywhere else, but it does takes some serious preparation to make room for nine more people sharing the space that three of us have already pretty much filled up.

Of course, if you’ve ever cleaned out closets, drawers, cabinets, the garage, the basement you know the mess looks a whole lot worse before it starts looking better! We’ve lived in this house now for 21 years.  I have cleaned out closets and such from time to time during those two decades, but still—we’ve done a lot of pile-of-clothes-and-accessoriesaccumulating! I am not a hoarder by any means.  Our house usually looks fairly tidy, but still Bob likes to call me a packrat.  I had to laugh at him this week, though.  My discards were going into three boxes—Trash, Donate and Yard Sale. He kept reaching into those boxes and pulling things out.  “You can’t get rid of this!” he’d say.  And he calls me the packrat!

The bigger part of my task was not just getting rid of things, but moving most of it from one location to another and then finding someplace to put it. For instance, I had to empty Robbie’s very small closet and drawers since four of my grandchildren will be staying in that room.  The only place I could think of to put Robbie’s clothes and supplies was in the large cabinet in the dining room.  In order to do that I had to move the dishes that were in that cabinet to the small pantry in my kitchen—which meant I had to take everything out of the pantry and move it to a cabinet I had in the basement.  I had to empty that cabinet into my Trash, Donate and Yard Sale boxes or a tote for storage. Arrgh!

There is one benefit from all this sorting and pitching and moving things around—gradually I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and I am enjoying having everything neat and organized again! I do like to organize!  I can’t resist peeking into a cupboard or closet and seeing everything pretty and arranged just so!

Have you ever considered that God is a God of organization?  When we study His creation, we can see thatGenesis-1-1-3-Let-There-Be-Light-HD-Wallpaper His original creation was done systematically and in order.  The first chapter of Genesis tells us, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day…  (Genesis 1:1-31)  The Lord was very specific when He gave Noah His instructions for building and loading the ark. (Genesis 6-8) He gave Moses His very specific directions, down to the smallest detail, for making the tabernacle and everything that should go in it, right down to the garments the priests would wear and the offerings He desired of them.  (Exodus 25-31)

The Lord commends others in the Bible for their organization.  Look at the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31.  Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.  The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.  She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.  She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.  She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar.   She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.   She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her proverbs 31hands she planteth a vineyard.  She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.  She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.  She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.  She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.   She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.  She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.  Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.  She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.  Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.  She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.  She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.  Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.   Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.  Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.  Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.”  She is a wonderful—although difficult—example to follow.  The only thing that gives me hope that I can follow in her footsteps is that I believe she accomplishes all these things over the seasons of her life and not all at once, and yet we know even then, she must have had a great head for keeping things organized.

God instructs us to be organized.  Jesus gave an example in Luke 14 28-30.  He was actually talking about counting the cost of following Him, but He said, “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?   Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.”   He tells pastors to “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God,which he obtained with his own blood.”  (Acts 20:28) and He goes on to tell us when it comes to our worship together, “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace… all things should be done decently and in order.”  (I Corinthians 14:33, 40)

What hinders us from being organized?  A lack of discipline, procrastination, laziness…  One of the fruit of the Spirit is self-control.  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.  And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:22-25)  Whether it comes to being organized in our homes or in our lives, we ought to exercise the strength of mind, and will, and character to do what we know we ought to do.  “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”(James 4:17)

Time to get rid of the stuff and nonsense—or at least make sense of it all! All it takes is a little discipline, a little determination, a little diligence…and some motivation—like the grandkids coming to visit!

And a Man’s Gotta Be…

This week’s highlight was celebrating Bob’s sixty-fifth birthday—a milestone, to be sure. There’s no getting around it—he may not look it, he may not feel it, he may not act it, but he is most definitely now a senior citizen!  Last week I wrote on “A Man’s Gotta Do What a Man’s Gotta Do”—one of Bob’s favorite axioms, by the way.  Today I want to share what a “Man’s Gotta Be” because he is what he is—and I sure am glad he is!

It’s true—Bob doesn’t look like your typical sixty-five year old man. He is very physically fit and still has all BobCAhis hair, with enough of it still blonde so that I like to tease him about his ”silver threads among the gold.”  Bob is youthful in spirit, as well.  He still has that twinkle in his eye and that silly grin, and he loves to tease.  He is a hard worker, but he loves to play, too.  He is Robbie’s best playmate and buddy, and is always thinking of games or making little toys that Robbie would like.  Rob can hardly wait for Daddy to come home, and his face just lights up when he hears his voice.

Our grandchildren have always thought that Grandpa is the best playmate, as well.  They love to roughhouse with him—and in fact, when they were younger and knew they are going to see him again in a few weeks, they’d start exercising to “get in shape to roughhouse with Grandpa!”  I wish he had more time to “play” the things he likes to do—hunting, fishing, running…  Instead he is working hard to take care of his family and do for others.  He says he will never retire, and even if he could, I don’t think he would want to.  He’s worked from the time he was seven years old when he helped in his dad’s business, and responsibility and discipline are just a part of who he is.

These are the things that will keep Bob younger than his years until the Lord takes him Home someday, I guess.  He will never be a rich man, but he is a happy man.  He has a happy life and a happy wife, and children and grandchildren who adore him.  The Lord saved him and changed the direction of his life almost forty-five years ago, and Bob has never stopped praising and thanking Him since.

psalm 37.23The Bible says, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.”  (Psalm 37:23)  When Bob gave his heart to Jesus in 1969, he also gave Him control over his life.  If any passage would explain Bob’s credo in life it would be this: “Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.  Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.  Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.  And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.  Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him:” (Psalm 37:3-7)

Through the years I have seen how Bob’s example and faith have influenced and inspired others.  Over and over again we have seen people come to him and say how his testimony, either in word or deed, years earlier made a difference in their lives.  Even unbelievers have commented on how they admired the strength and steadfastness of his convictions and his stand for the Lord.  Complete strangers have come up Psalm 37.3-5to him and asked if he is a Christian as they noticed his walk and his talk.  Bob is always humbled by such comments and reminded that people are always watching how we live our lives.  Proverbs 22:1 tells us, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold.”  Never underestimate the power of a good reputation!

Bob’s obedience and faithfulness helped shape our children into godly people who follow Him faithfully as well.  There can be no greater blessing than this to a Christian parent.  He will leave behind him a legacy that will be a blessing and inspiration for generations of our family to come, should the Lord tarry.  And someday he will hear God’s words to him, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant!”

I am thankful for the helpmate the Lord has given me.  I am thankful that Bob is what he is—a man who lives for the Lord, leads his family to follow after God, as well, and who loves me unconditionally. It may be true that “a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do” but for sure, a man’s gotta be all that God’s called him to be—and Bob has done well in that.

A Man’s Gotta Do What a Man’s Gotta Do

When Horace Greeley popularized the phrase, “Go west, young man, go west” in the mid-1800s, I am sure he was not visualizing a young boy leaving the eastern European country of Ukraine to travel westward img_9342across Europe, the Atlantic Ocean and clear across the American continent to California. Our grandson James did just that in 2012.  Since that time he has come to love his new country, and in particular, all things western—YEE-HAW!

James celebrated his 19th birthday the other day—his fifth in the United States.  Actually it was only his fifth birthday celebration ever. I can still remember his first birthday here as part of our family.  He could not believe the decorations, the cake, the presents were all for him and beamed from ear to ear all day long!  It is no wonder, then, that he was as excited as a little kid about this one.  The Sanchez family does birthdays up big in their household, so James chose a western theme this year and looked forward to the surprises his mom and dad and siblings would have for him on his special day.

Of course they did not disappoint! The Old West decorations were cool, the western-themed cake his momdomra baked and decorated turned out great, and James got to dress up in his western gear.  His special request was to go to a couple western stores in a neighboring town to look for a belt buckle and western-style belt.  And since he already has a western guitar, his folks got him the next best thing—a Russian mandolin!

James was telling me about his birthday later that night. After hearing all the details, I went on to ask about his job search.  He mentioned that there was a possibility that he would be hired by a fencing company.  “Oh, riding fence, eh, cowboy?” I responded.

In his best John Wayne imitation, James drawled, “A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do!” Sort of… if you could just imagine John Wayne with a heavy Ukrainian accent…

I got tickled over that! It is one of my husband Bob’s favorite phrases, especially since it comes from his west4favorite movie hero, John Wayne.  The grandkids have all picked up on that and love to mimic Boppa imitating the Duke.  They even got him a mug with that saying paying tribute to his cowboy hero.  You’ll hear it quoted often in our family, “A man’s gotta do, what a man’s gotta do!”

I got to thinking about that phrase. It sounds very, well—manly, doesn’t it?  Very macho.  It sounds like a man who will stand tough.  One who will stand on his convictions.  One who will courageously fight for what is right. It actually reminds me of some other heroes—not of the Old West, but of the Bible.  Heroes of the faith.

The Scriptures are full of men—and women—who stood up for righteousness; who did what they had to do because it was the right thing before God for them to do.  Three Old Testament examples come to mind immediately.

Genesis 6 tells us the story of Noah. “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, andnoah that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.  And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” (vs. 5-8) Noah alone, of all the people on earth, stood for God and led his family to do likewise.  Noah, alone with his sons and their wives, obeyed the Lord’s instructions to build an ark and enter it as God’s plan of salvation.  They stood despite the ridicule and reviling that surely must have been flung at them from an unbelieving, tremendously wicked people who saw him building this monstrosity of a ship in a world that had yet to see rain, who heard his warnings, and still refused to repent. (II Peter 2:5)

noahfloodHebrews 11 upholds Noah as a hero of the faith, “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” (v. 7) His actions were a testimony to an unbelieving world of Noah’s obedience and God’s holy righteousness.  His actions were a mark, as well, of godly leadership to his family which resulted in their salvation.

David was just a young boy when he took a manly stand for God.  The Israeli army ran and hid before the champion of the Philistines, a giant named Goliath.  When young David came to bring food to his older brothers who were in the army, he saw this sorry state of affairs and volunteered to fight Goliath himself.  I Samuel 17 tells the story.  His brothers mocked him and told him to go back to tending his sheep.  The king accepted his offer since no one else had volunteered—not even he himself—but doubting David’s abilities, tried to impose his own armor and weapons on the boy.  David refused them and took only his shepherd’s staff, his sling and a few stones to fight the giant.

Goliath, when he saw his small opponent, did not merely mock or doubt. He reviled and cursed David, his david-and-goliathcountrymen and his God.  David stood.  David stood while the army of Israel hid.  David stood while Saul, the king, hid.  David stood, but not alone.  He knew God stood with him and that the battle was the Lord’s. “Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands.” (I Samuel 17:45-47) David slew Goliath with just his sling and a little stone—and the hand of God.  David’s stand was a testimony of his trust in the living God of Israel, and a testimony of God’s great and mighty power, and it led to the salvation of Israel that day.

We find another hero of the faith in Daniel 6.  Daniel, a Hebrew captive of the Babylonians had found favor with the pagan king Darius, in fact had become second only to the king in all the land.  His life was exemplary and Darius knew it was because of Daniel’s unshakeable belief in and obedience to his God.  The king’s favor made him a target of all the other rulers in the kingdom who were jealous of Daniel.  They plotted against him, to rid themselves of this upstart who dared to usurp their regard with the king by his righteous living.  They tricked the king into signing an unalterable “royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions.” (v. 7)  Daniel did not allow this new decree to prevent him from praying to the true and living God of Israel, however. “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.” (v.10)  He was faithful before in plain sight of all, knowing full well the penalty was death.   His faithfulness to God was a daniel lionstestimony, and what happened next was a testimony of God’s faithfulness to him.

The king was upset that he had been tricked, but even he was bound by the law of the land, and in the end had no choice but to have Daniel thrown into the lions’ den. He spent a sleepless night worrying about Daniel and the first thing the next morning ran to the mouth of the den—only to find Daniel totally and miraculously unharmed and praising God for his deliverance.  Daniel’s stand for God was not only a testimony and a godly influence on the land, but also led to the salvation of the king.  Darius made a decree, “That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and steadfast forever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end.(v.26)

There comes a time when a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do—or a woman, for that matter. When we have to take a stand for the Lord regardless of the popular opinion, the mockery or even the consequences.  We must stand for God courageously, boldly and unapologetically.  There may come a time when “… We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29) May our lives be a testimony of His righteousness, His faithfulness and power as we stand for Him, and may it lead to the salvation of others.

James is young, just embarking on his adult years out there in the wild, wild west of California. I pray that no matter where or how the Lord leads him, he will always do what a man’s gotta do—stand courageously for God.

It’s Freezing — Not!

We woke up yesterday to an unhappy surprise. A puddle—a big puddle—was forming at the foot of our upright freezer in the basement.  We had heard a few strange, scattered noises coming from that area the day before but couldn’t tell where they were coming from and didn’t think much of it until we saw the water on the floor and then—uh-oh!defrosting-the-basement-freezer

When we bought that freezer almost thirty years ago we were dirt-poor and felt we couldn’t afford the frost-free model so, over the years, I periodically had to defrost it. I admit I had not tackled that job lately and now we had a big mess to show for it.  Bless my dear husband’s heart—he loaded up all the food down there in coolers and spent several hours defrosting and cleaning it all up.  The bad news at the end was that there would be no fixing the problem.  We weren’t about to spend a couple hundred dollars on repairing a thirty year old appliance.

Fortunately we had caught the problem before the frozen foods had begun to thaw. I rearranged things in my freezer upstairs and managed to squeeze a bit more in up there.  We pitched a few things that had been stuck in the freezer too long anyway, and my mom was able to fit the rest in her freezer until we could come back for them.  Then Bob went shopping for a new freezer.

He called home from the first place he stopped to tell me about what he had found. I was surprised at how much a simple upright freezer cost these days.  “You know,” I said as I stood in my kitchen staring at my refrigerator/freezer (that is also thirty years old), “if we have to spend that much on a freezer, I’d rather spend a little more on a new refrigerator, and take this old one downstairs.  I’d rather have extra refrigerator space, and a little less freezer space.  We don’t want stainless steel and all the bells and whistles, so maybe it wouldn’t cost much more and would be a better way to go.”

He shopped around and found something he liked. Our new refrigerator will be delivered tomorrow.  I have mixed feelings.  It will be nice to have a new, bigger refrigerator in my kitchen, and more refrigerator space downstairs.  My upright freezer was seldom more than half full, so I think I can get by with a little bigger freezer upstairs and a little smaller one downstairs.   On the other hand, spending money on a large refrigeratorappliance purchase wasn’t something we wanted to do right now with all the other expenses coming up this year.  Not to mention that my washer and dryer are also thirty years old, and we’ve been praying the air conditioning through every summer the last few years, too, so it’s only a matter of time until we’ll have to replace them, as well.   Hopefully, maybe they’ll break down one at a time so we’ll only have to replace them one at a time!

But in everything give thanks! I’m thankful that we have refrigeration in this country and at this time.  There are millions (billions?) around the world who still live without this modern convenience.  Although ice was used from the mid-1700s through the 1800s, it wasn’t until the early 1900s that electric refrigeration was available for home use.  And it is with a grateful heart that I thank God for the food filling my refrigerator and freezer—so much, in fact, that I need more space for it.  I cannot complain about my appliances growing old and having to replace them.  The Lord graciously has given me far more than many in this world.

I had five or six boxes of sugar-free fudgesicles in the freezer downstairs. I recently bought them when they were on sale and I had a really good coupon for them.  Fudgesicles are the quintessential girly-girl’s snack,Fudgesicle3_1_jpg939f690b-0c0d-4608-996d-05eacd516f71Res200 in my humble opinion.  Refreshing, low-calorie and, best of all—chocolate!  Of all the things in my freezer that I was most concerned about as I saw Bob bringing the coolers of food upstairs, it was my fudgesicles.  After all, there is nothing worse than a lukewarm fudgesicle!  Mushy, messy, falling off the stick—ick!

Really, lukewarm anything is seldom good.  A cold drink of water—aah, refreshing!  A nice hot shower to wash away the aches and pains of the day—oh, yeah!  But lukewarm water—what good is that?  One of my pet peeves is trying to serve the food I have labored to prepare at its correct temperature—either hot or cold–only to have the meal delayed and the food become lukewarm.  Ugh!  Even Jesus had something to say about the subject.  He said to the church at Laodicea, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and lukewarmneither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:15, 16)

The Laodiceans had become complacent, apathetic in their faith and comfortable—too comfortable— in their material wealth.  “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” (v. 17) They boasted of their riches, yet Jesus said that they were spiritually poor.  Their city was known for its eye salve and fine wool, and yet Jesus called them spiritually blind and naked.  The Laodicean church was a real New Testament church of the first century, and yet this message from Revelation is meant for our twenty-first century churches as well—and to those individual Christians who have allowed themselves to become lukewarm in their love for the Lord and indifferent and lazy in the Commission to which He has called us.

Jesus went on to say, “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” (vs. 18, 19) There are three things, He said, that will remedy lukewarm hearts in our lives and within the church.

First He says, “buy of me gold, tried in the fire.” Gold is refined by fire. The Word of God refines spiritually. The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.” (Psalm 12:6) Sometimes it takes the refining fires of testing to bring us back to the place where our hearts are right with Him once more. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God.” (Zechariah 13:9)

The remedy, He goes on to say, for our spiritual nakedness is to buy of Him “white raiment.” It was His shed blood that clothed us in righteousness when we accepted His salvation in the first place. I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness.” (Isaiah 61:10) He made us a new creation in Him at the time of our salvation. When we have lost that first love, we need to remember that, repent, and renew our commitment to righteous living. “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” (Ephesians 4:24)

Finally, Jesus says, “anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.”  We are saved from the darkness of sin, and our blinded eyes are opened to the Gospel and the wonderful things of Christ. When we become lukewarm to Him, however, and slip back into the world, we are blinded once more. “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust… But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.”  (II Peter 1:3, 4, 9)  We have the true Light of the World if we only open our eyes to Him and let Him reveal to us our sin and turn back to Him. “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (II Corinthians 4:6)

The water supply in Laodiciea had to travel traveled several miles to the city through an underground aqueduct. By the time it arrived to the people it was dirty, foul and tepid.  When Jesus likened the people of the church in Laodicea to lukewarm, nauseating water that he wanted to spew—not just spit, but actually vomit—out of His mouth, they got the message.

The Greek word for “hot” used in this context is “zestos”, meaning “boiling hot.” It is also used in Romans 12:11 and refers to spiritual zeal or fervor, a zealousness for the things of the Lord.  Hot water, too, has a healing, soothing effect on the body.  We can see why Jesus said He would rather that we be hot than lukewarm.  It may seem strange, then, that He said He’d even prefer that we be cold to lukewarm, but cold water is refreshing and invigorating.  The Laodiceans were neither hot nor cold—they were nauseating and useless.

I don’t want to be nauseating and useless to my Lord!!  Do you?   Let us be refined by His Word.  Let us return to righteous living, forsaking the temptations of the world.  Let us open our eyes to our backslidden ways and repent.  Jesus went on to say in Revelation 3:19, 20, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.  Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”  And I am sure when Jesus comes in to dine with us, the meal will not be lukewarm!  It will be just right!

rev-3-201

Spring Chickens

My sister told me that I am not old this week!  She also told me that I need to quit thinking of myself as spring chickenold.  Well, Cheree, when you’ve been married forty-five years, have thirteen grandchildren and are six months away from being eligible for Medicare—you’re no spring chicken!  And this old hen has lost the spring in her step—and a whole lot of other things, too!

But bless her heart, Cheree was giving me a pep talk, encouraging me to pick up the pace, get in a more “youthful” frame of mind, and get ready to keep up with all those grandchildren when they come home this summer. I needed her encouragement, too, because I have become much too used to my quiet (read lazy!) lifestyle, and allowed myself to play the old card—on myself!  And she is correct—being older in years does not mean we have to be older in outlook.  As the old saying goes, “You’re only as old as you feel.”

oldSo thanks to Cheree I have resolved to start working on how I feel, but oooh—I feel every one of those aches and pains! And I can’t see worth a hoot; sometimes I think I can’t hear, either; I wobble when I walk; and I lose my car in the parking lot after spending twenty minutes in the store.  To top things off, Bob put a grab bar in my tub/shower this week because he worries that I will fall.  I am thankful for his protection and care, but yeah—it made me feel very senior citizen-ish.

And to top that, we hit a milestone this week.  We started the process of signing up for Medicare and decided on the supplements we will take out to cover what Medicare does not.   Bob turns sixty-five in just a couple weeks, and I will follow later this year.  Actually, strangely enough, turning sixty-five and being eligible for Medicare is something I have looked forward to for a long time since we have not had health insurance for the last eight or nine years.  At last I can start getting some of the things fixed on this no-spring-chicken body that need to be fixed!  And God has graciously answered my prayers, so far, that nothing catastrophic would happen to saddle us with monstrous medical bills before Medicare kicks in, for which I am very grateful.Medicare

I have often said that in this day and age, if you don’t have health insurance you might as well live in the 1800’s as far as medical care is concerned. We have amazing science and technology and pharmaceutics available, but who can afford the astronomic costs on their own?  So yes, I will be delighted to receive Medicare.  It is good to remember, however, that our lives and our needs on up into our senior years, are in the omnipotent, loving hands of God.

Our security does not come from Social Security.  We cannot put our trust in dividends or retirement funds for our provision.  Our physical health is ultimately in God’s hands whether we have insurance or Meidcare or not.  He does not forget us when we get old.  In fact He says that the lives of His children, from youth to old age, are in His watchcare.  The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his old11way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand. I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.  He is ever merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed.  Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell for evermore. For the Lord loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.  The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein forever. (Psalm 37:23-29)

Yes, we face new and often more difficult challenges as we age, but God is faithful and walks with us through every ordered step of our life’s journey. He will not forsake us, even when we might feel alone or sick or feeble.  “…for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5) He, not the government, is our refuge in times of trouble.   “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)  What a blessing and comfort to turn to the God of the universe in times of calamity and know that He loves us and holds us close! “Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.” (Psalm 57:1)Don't worry

Putting our trust in God for our anxieties about getting old frees our minds to be at peace.  “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” (Philippians 4:6-8)  When I am not thinking about how old I’m getting and all the aches and pains and other difficulties that come with it, I can “think young” again and go on to enjoy life.

I appreciate Cheree’s encouragement and support. I love having a husband who is young at heart (and young in physical fitness, too!) who keeps me giggling like a school girl and wants to keep me young at heart, too.  And I am thankful for my loving Father who has it all under control and will see me through the rest of my life’s journey.  I may not be a spring chicken—but I’m still kickin’!

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The Heart of a Mother

I’ve had several discussions this week with various friends and loved ones about motherhood. The fact that this week is Mother’s Day wasn’t really a factor—several issues just happened to pop up.  The topics ranged from “the seasons of a woman’s life” to “a mother will always be a mother no matter how old her children are” to “meeting the individual needs of each very unique, individual child in the family” to “motivation and discipline of said children.” Older mothers, new moms, mothers from other races and cultures, stepmoms, adopted mothers, grandmothers—we all have the same concerns: doing the very best we can for those precious lives entrusted to our care.

I am the mother of three—two beautiful daughters and one beloved special needs son. I have two dear, godly sons-in-law and am the grandmother to thirteen wonderful, amazing grandchildren, ranging in age from one to twenty-two.  My life’s journey has taken me through difficult pregnancies and childbirth; adoption; raising really easy girls and a challenging little guy; seeing those cherished daughters leave for mother-means-that-your-heart-is-no-longer-yours-e1431110451753college and then on to marry and start families of their own; sitting by the bedside of our precious son for years, often wondering if he would live to see another year; to being a long-distance mom and grandma, separated by thousands of miles from the children and grandkids—who are always nestled close in my heart.

My girls both have large families with their own unique challenges. Laurie has seven children, with the youngest two years old and the oldest already twenty-two years old.  We were just speaking the other day of how overwhelming it can be at times, and how it pulls at a mother’s heart, when all seven have concerns, problems, or just need attention from a loving mama at the same time.  Most of Julie’s children are grown, or almost grown, too, but they’ve started over with a baby, and are prayerfully considering adopting one or two more.  Blending their mixed family has been a rewarding challenge in itself, and each child has brought his or her own issues to weigh upon her mother’s heart.

mother'sheartMy mother is eighty-five years old and I am sixty-four. You would think my mom would have realized I am a senior citizen now!! But no, to her I am still her child.  She wants to feed me when I go over to her place, or jump up to get me a drink.  When I spend the night there once and a while, she thinks I should go to bed at 9:00 PM like she does.  She tells me to button my coat, not to try to carry too much at once, and to remember to take my medicine.  She just can’t help herself—she has the heart of a mom.

The wonderful women in my life—mom, daughters, sisters, friends, aunts, cousins—we all share the same heart, regardless of the season of our life or our station in life when we have children—and that is the heart of a mother.  How our hearts rejoice at each milestone and achievement in the lives of our children!  How we treasure the happy memories, the sweet moments, the sentimental declarations of love from our children in our hearts!  How our hearts ache at the childhood hurts, the teenage struggles, the disappointments our children of any age suffer.  How our hearts break when we are separated from them, or when tribulation comes to our children!

I think of Mary, the mother of Jesus, when I think of a mother’s heart. When the angel proclaimed to her maryjesusthat she had been chosen to bear the Son of God, her heart praised God, but don’t you think it must have been in turmoil, as well?  She believed, oh yes, she believed, but she was just a young girl with very human emotions.  Can you imagine the wonder, the fear, the joy, the uncertainty that swirled within her heart?  Then on the night of Jesus’ birth, after the angels had brought the glorious message of a Savior born in Bethlehem, and peace and goodwill to men on earth, and shepherds rushed to the stable to worship the babe, the Bible tells us that “Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)  Eight days later when they took baby Jesus to the temple, they met there an old man named Simeon who testified by the Spirit that Jesus was the salvation for all men. Mary marveled in her heart at what was said about her child. (Luke 2:21-35)  When the wise men came and worshipped her baby boy, I am sure her heart overflowed with joy; yet when Herod sent soldiers to search for her baby and slay him, and in the process slew many other little babies instead, how her heart must have been overwhelmed with grief. (Matthew 2)

The years passed and the Bible tells us that Jesus “grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.” (Luke 2:40) Can you imagine being the mother to this perfect child?  The responsibility must have lain heavily upon her; perhaps there were even times her heart felt unworthy of the task.  Her young son was sinless and perfect, but there did come a day when her heart was filled with fear and she was even upset with Him.  Luke 2:41-52 tells the story: “Now his parents went to Jerusalem maryjesus3every year at the feast of the passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance.  And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business? And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”  Mary kept all these things in her heart and watched as Jesus grew into an amazing man.

No one understood just how very amazing her son was, however, as Mary did. She knew what He could do, and at the wedding in Cana her mother’s heart wanted others to recognize it, as well. (John 2:1-11)  Although He performed that first miracle of His public ministry, turning water into wine, He told her His time had not yet come.  How then her heart must have grieved when the people of their own hometown of Nazareth mocked Him in their unbelief. (Mark 6:1-6) And that horrific day when her beloved son was maryjesus2nailed to the cross and crucified before her eyes! “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.” (John 19:25-27) Jesus knew her mother’s heart was breaking and one of His last thoughts before He gave up his life on the cross was for her care.

Although our children are far from perfect, as Mary’s son was, I think we can understand her mother’s heart.  The feelings of awe and trepidation when we hold that first precious baby in our arms.  The pride and joy when others gather to welcome him or her. The doubts, perhaps, of our worthiness when we realize the magnitude of the job before us and the responsibility we hold in our hands for that child’s life.  The burdens and fear at times as we traverse the childhood illnesses, injuries and concerns for our children’s safety; the heartache when our children suffer emotional wounds; the grief and sorrows that sometimes break our hearts.  The delight in their accomplishments, the relief when they turn out well after all (!) and the pleasure and satisfaction in seeing them go on to begin life as adults and start families of their own (bringing us the reward of those precious grandchildren!)

Our hearts are not so very different than Mary’s heart, or the hearts of mothers around the world. I am thankful for the mother God gave me, who invested her whole heart and being into loving and raising and supporting me and my sisters and brother, teaching us what a godly, loving mother ought to be.  I am thankful for my daughters who have turned into amazing mothers themselves with hearts that follow after God and are bringing up their children, my awesome grandchildren, in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Let our hearts be like Mary’s—whole-heartedly His, pure, trusting, courageous, steadfast, wise. May our mother’s hearts be hearts after God’s own heart, examples that our children will follow as they learn to love and walk with Him.

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